Making Music


By: Steven Pradell, Esq.

The ability to create beautiful music is a precious gift. Unfortunately, many musicians who perfect their artistic skills learn little about marketing and selling their services. No matter what your goals are, earning an income from all of your hard work will at least enable you to buy the strings and patch cords which you need to continue to generate those beautiful sounds. As an entertainer and an attorney, I know that using both sides of our brains is essential if we are to succeed in the rewarding business of entertainment..

There are some simple steps that you can take which will assist you in your efforts to succeed economically as an artist. First and foremost, make certain that any the terms of any agreements you make to perform music for money are clearly set forth in writing. Having a written contract signed by you and a booking agent, bar owner, or bar mitzvah mom will enable both you and your client to eliminate many of the problem issues which may arise later if things do not go the way either of you anticipated.

A contract should always contain certain essential information. This includes, at a minimum:

1. The names, signatures, and addresses of all parties who are making the agreement.

2.The date that the contract is signed by the parties.

3.The price of the performance, and the method and manner in which the money will be paid to the performer.

4. A cancellation clause, which describes what will occur if you or the person hiring you can not do what you agreed to do.

5. The place of the performance, and a description of what you agree to do at the performance.

6. I have provided a sample contract that my entertainment business, Abracadabra, uses often in booking events. Please do not simply copy it. Instead, create your own form using the ideas in this article and other information which you know about your business so that your contract is uniquely tailored to your specific talents. The sample contract looks like this:


ABRACADABRA hereby agrees to provide the following:






PAYMENT TO BE MADE by check immediately following the show. Deposit of $ to be provided upon return of signed contract.




CANCELLATION POLICY: Should the person or organization booking the performance cancel it with less than 10 days written notice, it is agreed that ABRACADABRA shall receive one half the performance fee.

STATUS OF PERFORMER: It is understood that all performers (except Steven Pradell) are independent contractors of ABRACADABRA and that ABRACADABRA is only a booking agency with regard to the performance. ABRACADABRA assumes no liability for any acts, negligent or intentional, by performer causing harm or damages arising out of the performance, and liability of ABRACADABRA, if proven, is limited to a refund of the amount of the performance price.

AGREEMENT: To signify your agreement, please sign and date each contract and return one copy to ABRACADABRA at the address below.



Date Date

P.O. BOX 102062, ANCHORAGE AK 99510, (907)34-MAGIC

One of the benefits to having a good contract is that it will assist you when booking your events, and give a potential job prospect the assurance that you are a professional entertainer. Have a copy of your contract form in front of you when you make a call to inquire about a potential performance. As the questions which are on the contract and fill it in over the phone as you get the answers from your prospect. Once you have all of the information you need, quote your price and tell the hiring person that you will fax or mail the contract immediatley. This tells your potential client that you are a professional, not just another flake with an amplifier who may not show up on time or at all. It is likely that your prospect may have reservations about hiring you simply because of bad past experiences with other entertainers who were not professional. Many decisions to hire musicians are made impulsively, so if you can get the contract faxed or mailed immediately, you may book the event before the prospect changes his or her mind.

If the party who signs the contract fails to pay you or otherwise meet the obligations agreed to in the contract, the contract will serve as evidence if you decide to file a claim in small claims court.

Contracts are helpful to performers in many situations. If you are making a CD or marketing one, trying to sell your song to a professional performer, or doing anything which involves placing your music or talents before the public, you may need a written contract. These can be much more complicated than the simple agreement which is provided above. It may be wise to discuss your contract issues with an attorney before signing one, especially if it is offered to you prepared by someone else, to learn your rights and obligations.


This article was authored by Steven Pradell, Esq. with offices in Anchorage, Alaska. He is also the owner of Pradell and Associates and Abracadabra Entertainment. This article is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be relied on for that purpose. Phone: (907) 279-4529. Email address: [email protected]. Reprinted with permission of Steven Pradell. Copyrighted by Steven Pradell.

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